The following letter was sent by Kingpins founder Andrew Olah to introduce the release of Kingpins' Cotton Position.
Everyday our industry besieges each other — either on the B2B front or speaking to consumers— with the word “sustainable.” Denim mills, brands and retailers boast that adding linen, or organic cotton or recycled anything to their fabrics means they are a sustainable mill or provide sustainable products.
How many times have we heard mills and brands talk about water savings or organic whatever as proof that their products are sustainable? Neither consumers nor denim fabric buyers have any idea who is telling the truth and what is sustainable and what is nonsense. Even the mills, brands and retailers can’t agree on what sustainable means. The word has become not just unclear but useless and obfuscating. At this point, anyone can say they are sustainable and they have zero obligation to prove it.
Enough is enough. In an attempt to stop this madness, Kingpins and Olah Inc. have decided that it’s time to ask the industry to stop it. Right now. Today.
There has to be a rational definition of sustainability. Otherwise we should all agree it no longer has any meaning and is nothing more than a gimmick.
Our definition of sustainability is simple: Without data or third-party verification, there is no proof of sustainability.
A product cannot be considered sustainable without a full environmental impact analysis and a credible third-party verification. A mill’s claim alone that it uses less water does not make the product sustainable. Was there a third-party verification? Is there any data to show the mill’s full environmental impact? Sustainable claims need a full environmental footprint analysis.
The first step to sustainability for any mill or any product is to run a full assessment of its entire environmental impact. All of it. Water consumption, carbon, energy waste, etc., etc., etc. Only when that is done can we know where we are starting from.That is the starting point. Stuffing hemp in a fabric does not make it sustainable if other things the mill does are harmful. If you smoke but eat vegan, your lungs are not in better shape.
We implore the denim industry to stop with the fake sustainability claims. If you really want to claim your products are sustainable, be serious and share the whole story — with facts.
With this in mind, we have published our position on cotton. It includes data about the global cotton economy, looks at how organic cotton stacks up against conventional cotton and addresses why it’s crucial to know where and how your cotton was grown. Cotton is the building block of all denim and we can't talk about sustainability without a deep understanding of the state of cotton.
You can find our cotton statement here.
—Kingpins Founder Andrew Olah